We are pleased to present this issue of FRONTLINE the Ontario Construction Consortium Newsletter – for January – February 2021. This newsletter will be published every two months – to update you on OCC initiatives and events. We hope you find it informative. Visit our website https://www.ontarioconstructionconsortium.org/ – it showcases our publications and activities and is regularly updated.
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The Ontario Construction Consortium – a new voice for quality work, a robust training sector and safe workplaces.
Formed in 2018, the Ontario Construction Consortium is an organization dedicated to strengthening the construction industry through Advocacy, Education, Networking and Workforce Development.
In anticipation of the Province’s renewal of the stay-at-home order for the City of Toronto on February 19, the Ontario Construction Consortium called for the resumption of all construction projects in the city. This would be an appropriate recognition of the extraordinary health and safety record demonstrated by the construction industry throughout the covid pandemic – a record unmatched in any other sector of the economy. Contractors have gone to great expense ensuring that their jobsites are safe – providing personal protective equipment to employees and providing sanitary washroom facilities. And construction workers have gone to extraordinary lengths to make sure that they and their colleagues are operating covid-safe.
Of 10,000 covid-related cases from across the provincial economy that went to the WSIB last year, approximately 150 originated from construction sites. This is because of the extraordinary efforts of construction workers, unions, and contractors to operate in a safe manner. There were a few bad actors – there always will be. But most people stepped up. As Phil Gillies told AM 640 ‘construction workers wanted to be healthy at 5 o’clock when they went home to their families’.
OCC issued a news release on February 18 which read in part:
The construction industry contributed 8% of Canada’s GDP and employed more than 1.2 million people in 2019. It is essential that the government do everything it can to support this vital segment of the economy,” Gillies said. “That begins with allowing all construction to resume immediately, especially in the GTA, Canada’s largest market.”
Gillies said construction sites continue to operate safely due to the efforts of both employers and employees and added that it doesn’t make sense to shut down one site because it’s deemed non-essential and allow another to continue when contractors at both sites are making extraordinary efforts to keep workers safe.
Fly-by-night contractors in Ontario undermine the province’s fiscal position by not paying their income taxes, HST and WSIB premiums. This hurts law abiding citizens who do pay their taxes. It hurts us all more than ever during the current pandemic, when governments are having to pay out more money than ever to support people, at the same time revenues are down because business operations are constrained. The Province of Ontario and the Government of Canada lost up to $3.1 billion between 2013 and 2017 because of contractors operating in the underground economy.
Continued enforcement efforts are needed to police the underground economy and create a level playing field for legitimate contractors who support health and safety, and fund apprenticeship programs. OCC thanks the Ontario Construction Secretariat for their continued efforts on this.
Here is a link to the full Ontario Construction Secretariat report:
Read the report
Toronto City Council has voted unanimously in favour of a negotiated settlement with Canada Lands and Northcrest Developments that could see a large-scale transformation of the Downsview Park area. The plan is not without controversy as neighbours watch to see what will be developed in the 520-acre site – but it appears a combination residential and ‘employment lands’ mix may be closer to realization.
The construction industry has watched this development for years as it could create thousands of jobs in building and maintaining the massive site. We will continue to watch this exciting project with great interest.
OCC contributed an article to the January edition of ReNew Infrastructure Magazine on the way skills training processes are evolving because of the covid pandemic.
COVID-19 struck a major blow to apprenticeship training in Ontario. The training of thousands of apprentices ground to a halt in March. Many of the 90-plus union and contractor-sponsored campuses resumed operations in June and July—with changes necessitated by the pandemic.
Regular classes were largely up and running by September—but with reduced class sizes and new procedures in place. We visited the Interior Finishing Systems Training Centre (IFSTC) in Woodbridge— where apprentices are trained in drywall acoustic installation, drywall finishing and plastering, exterior insulating, and hazardous materials handling. We found a tight safety regimen in place to protect trainees and staff. Where there would normally be four different entrances to the building, everyone now goes through one secured entry point. Two staff members were conducting health screening for everyone coming in. Ample supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) were available and provided at several points in the building.
There is no question covid 19 struck a major blow to apprenticeship training in Ontario throughout 2020 and it will change the way things are done going forward. Read more
In the January edition of Front Line we reported on the recent initiatives by the Carpenters Union District Council of Ontario to encourage inclusiveness in construction workplaces, especially the appointment of veteran union official Chris Campbell as the new Equity and Diversity Representative. So, it is most appropriate, February being Black History Month, that the Carpenters have put out a video in which their members and allies talk about what BHM means to them, including the great Afro- Canadian and American role models who have inspired them.
OCC Phil Gillies is included in the video. He was privileged to know the Honourable Lincoln Alexander, Canada’s first black Member of Parliament and Ontario’s first black Lieutenant Governor. Mr. Alexander was great trailblazer – Phil talks briefly about him in the video.
There is a serious and ongoing shortage of skilled tradespeople in Canada, and yet women continue to be underrepresented in the trades. Women make up nearly half the entire workforce in our country, but a very small percentage of the workforce in construction related fields. It is time for the industry to get past the stereotypes and hire a more diverse workforce.
That is OCC’s message as International Women’s Day approaches on March 8th. Yes, working in the trades can by hard and physically demanding. But it can also be tremendously rewarding. Jobs in the trades pay well and work is readily available. Training and apprenticeship programs are available at low or no cost for women. A variety of skills, both physical and academic, are needed to succeed in the trades. And women are more than able to provide these.
For some people taking a bachelor’s degree and graduating with a large student debt is the right course. But for others, becoming a skilled journeyperson – and moving into a well-paying trade debt-free is the way to go.
There are several organizations ready to help women start down this path. One is the Canadian Association of Women In Construction. Check them out: The Canadian Association of Women in Construction (CAWIC) |
FRONTLINE is a publication of the the Ontario Construction Consortium – a think tank / lobby supported by unionized contractors and stakeholders from the province’s construction sector. We welcome your feedback. You can unsubscribe at any time by emailing email@example.com with the word Unsubscribe in the subject line.